Energy Engagement

By on Jul 8, 2018 in News

A recent National Apartment Association study about apartment residents’ familiarity with and attitudes toward energy efficiency was the focus of an energy management panel at the recent Apartmentalize Powered by NAA conference in San Diego.

The “Get Residents and Keep Them with Energy Efficiency Engagement” panel featured Martin Levkus, regional director for the Yardi Smart Energy Suite; Lexie Goldberg, senior associate for sustainability at Greystar; and Mary Nitschke, director of ancillary services for Prometheus Real Estate Group. Jenifer Paneral, senior vice president of operations at DayRise Residential LLC, served as the moderator.

Last fall, NAA commissioned the Shelton Group to conduct a survey of 1,000 renters to understand the role of energy efficiency in choosing and staying in an apartment. The results were shared in Units magazine in June 2018 and presented to session attendees at Apartmentalize. The study revealed that property managers and owners can maximize resident engagement with energy efficiency.

The study also found that mentioning energy efficiency at the first touchpoint is an opportunity to “get residents.”  Twenty-five percent of residents participating in the survey said that knowing an apartment’s energy efficiency impacts their rental decision.

According to Levkus, property managers can promote sustainability by making it convenient—and the key to convenience is technology. “Providing a portal that allows residents to easily view their consumption and pay their bills online empowers them to make changes that save money and make the property more sustainable,” he said. “Renters also like smart devices such as thermostats that increase their comfort but also reduce consumption and save money. The thermostats power down heaters and air conditioners when the unit is unoccupied.”

Goldberg spoke of the importance of making energy and sustainability prominent on a property website. She described a Greystar community’s home page that lists statistics on how the property’s conservation attributes help the planet and the local community. One of Greystar’s university housing property websites includes a fun and informative sustainability page.

Greystar also uses energy efficiency to “keep residents.” The company gives all residents a Green Living Guide, in addition to some localized sustainability projects that engage residents in the company’s annual “Sustainability September.”

Nitschke discussed the importance of keeping pace with environmental amenities that attract a property’s rental demographic. For example, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations can be a persuasive selling point. “Even if prospective residents don’t have an EV, they like knowing that the charging station is there if they eventually get one,” she said, adding that landlords can earn revenue from the service by connecting chargers to a resident’s utility bill or by installing a credit card payment system or app.

Nitschke also advised providing the leasing staff with talking points on the property’s sustainability features, noting that the elevator at one of Prometheus’ properties that generates its own energy has helped close deals on the spot.

She also mentioned Prometheus’ installation of energy-efficient windows at a property that enabled a per-unit monthly increase of $75. That outcome is consistent with the NAA article’s description of such windows as a top energy efficiency priority for residents.

Along with participating in the energy efficiency panel at NAA Apartmentalize, Yardi hosted an educational session on multi-touch lead attribution and led an artificial intelligence panel. In addition, the company’s exhibition hall display was named the conference’s Best Island Booth (20’ x 20’ or larger), and its Yardi Breeze booth earned Honorable Mention.